21 Mar 2015
A double gold medallist at Sochi 2014, French biathlete Martin Fourcade achieved a unique feat in March 2015, when he became the first man to win the overall IBU World Cup title four years in a row.
Martin Fourcade can trace the launch of his international career back to the 15km mass start at Vancouver 2010, when he made the most of his prodigious skiing skills to recover from two misses in the first shooting round to claim the silver medal, just ten seconds adrift from Russia’s Evgeny Ustyugov.
“Was there a turning point? Not really,” said the Frenchman, who was only 21 at the time. “I knew what I was capable of, but there’s no doubt that it was a springboard for my career, an opportunity to break into the elite.”
Five years on from that achievement, the insatiable Fourcade is the undisputed world number one, a status he cemented in March 2015 by securing his fourth consecutive overall IBU Biathlon World Cup title, a feat unprecedented in the sport and beyond the reach of even the great Ole Einar Bjørndalen, a six-time winner of the overall crystal globe.
The French biathlete ended the season with the sprint and pursuit titles also safely under his belt, taking his career haul of crystal globes both big and small to 16. The 2014/15 campaign also saw him collect his sixth world title, in the individual 20km event at Konthiolahti (FIN), where he also won bronze in the relay. During the course of his prolific career, he has secured 96 individual top-three finishes, 39 of them victories.
A golden double in Sochi
Ten of those wins, in all disciplines, came in the 2012/13 World Cup, in which Fourcade completed a grand slam by winning all five crystal globes on offer: the overall, the sprint, the pursuit, the individual and the mass start.
Reflecting on his majestic clean sweep, the Frenchman said: “In terms of consistency, it’s going to be hard for me or for anyone to do any better. In terms of pure performance, though, I can still improve in every area. I wasn’t 100 percent anywhere, and that’s what’s pushing me to kick on. I wouldn’t feel as motivated if I thought I’d reached my peak.”
Next up for Fourcade was a tilt at Olympic glory at Sochi 2014, where he lined up in all six events on the programme.
The first gold medal of his career duly came his way in the 12.5km pursuit, a triumph he celebrated in advance by punching the air after going clear at the final standing shoot. Three days later he made it gold number two in the individual 20km, atoning for a miss in the first shooting round with another commanding display on the skis to win by 12 seconds from Germany’s Eric Lesser.
A third gold nearly came Fourcade’s way in the mass start, where a photo finish was needed to separate him and Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen after a thrilling sprint for the line.
Speaking after the judges had awarded victory to the Norwegian, Fourcade said: “It’s a shame to lose the title by such a small margin. I had it in my legs and I would have loved to have completed the hat-trick. I’m happy for Emil, who hadn’t had a great Games up to then, but I wanted to show him that I was the boss.”
A big thank you
After becoming France’s most prolific Winter Olympian of all time with two silvers and two golds, Fourcade took to his official website to post a black and white of himself wearing one of his Sochi medals, an image that came with a caption: “Many years of hard work have gone into magical moments like this.”
He was back online a year later, posting a special message of thanks for his many fans on Facebook: “Reading all your messages has really brought the enormity of this fourth crystal globe home to me. I feel so many emotions… from the bad memories of the summer to the many highs of an incredible season. THANK YOU!”